Georgia ethics committee investigates expenses of former senator
ATLANTA (AP) – Georgia ethics officials say they are moving forward with an ethics investigation against a former state senator accused of illegally spending campaign money on personal expenses after leaving office.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that the Georgia Government Transparency & Campaign Finance Commission on Thursday voted to bring a lawsuit against former state senator Chip Rogers, alleging he requested additional loans for his campaign after leaving office so that he can be falsely reimbursed with the remaining money of the contributors.
Commission staff said the former Senate Majority Leader used campaign money for thousands of dollars in personal expenses, spending money at Six Flags, the Dillard department store, the PGA Super Store, a luxury car dealership in Florida and the Shaky Boots Music Festival.
Georgian law states that campaign money cannot be spent on personal expenses. Once candidates are done running for office, they can dispose of excess funds by donating them to charity, returning them to donors, or paying off debts and campaign expenses.
The commission also found a probable cause why Rogers, a Woodstock Republican, failed to file several required campaign finance reports or completely listed campaign expenses. A hearing would follow the determination of probable cause. The commission could fine Rogers.
“These blatant violations of campaign finance laws and the highly questionable uses of campaign funds are matters that committee staff take very seriously,” said committee executive secretary David Emadi. “Following the ruling in our favor today by the commission, we look forward to pursuing this matter and getting to the bottom of what exactly Mr. Rogers was doing with this money and why.”
Rogers’ attorney Doug Chalmers said the former senator’s repayments to himself did not exceed the value of his loans, that the statute of limitations for at least some of the allegations had expired and the records were no longer available to prove or disprove the Case.
“These cases should have been closed years ago, they should be closed today,” the newspaper told the committee.
Rogers left the Senate in 2012 when he accepted a $ 150,000 per year job with Georgia Public Broadcasting. At that time, records show that Rogers had $ 234,000 in his campaign war chest.
Rogers then filed statements claiming his campaign owed him thousands more than he previously claimed. Commission staff attorney Rachel Goldberg said there was “no way to tell” if the loans were legitimate.
Chalmers said Rogers found he incurred expenses during his tenure, including mileage and phone charges, for which he was never reimbursed. Records showed Rogers paid more than $ 50,000 for loan repayments and mileage after 2012.
Commission staff said bank records showed Rogers was spending campaign money on personal expenses, including on trips to London and Italy.